It’s that time of year again – twinkle lights are put on display, Christmas music is playing in Starbucks and kids look forward to sitting on Santa’s lap. While the Western world is celebrating in full force, we’re only be exposed to a sliver of the holiday season in China.
It’s easy to get caught up in planning your trip back for the holiday or which toys to buy for your kids. In this bubble that we live in, it can be difficult to remember that many will not be able to celebrate the holidays the same way, and the Community Center has made it their mission every Christmas to give back to one of the most vulnerable populations in Shanghai – the migrant community.
The Giving Tree is a program whereby donors stuff bags of winter and school essentials for students in migrant communities and schools, and distribute them at the beginning of the holiday season. Each bag contains a coat, school supplies, toy, educational book in Chinese and a reusable water bottle. When the program started in 2003, The Giving Tree delivered 32 bags; this year they will be delivering 10,000.
Toni Friedman, the charity specialist at the Community Center, explains, “The aim is not only to provide students with items like warm clothing and school supplies, but also to instill in each student the importance of giving. We hope that these kids will grow up remembering the feeling of having someone care about them, and will someday give back to others in need.”
Donors from all over the city have contributed to the project over the years, including international schools, community organizations and even large corporations such as eBay and Gap. The empty bags are sent directly to donors and each group gets the opportunity to hand deliver their stuffed bags to their designated migrant school – getting to see firsthand who they have helped. Although this gift may not change the lives of these children drastically, it’s an act of kindness that can bring some cheer and hope to them.
“It is our hope that these kids will grow up remembering the feeling of having someone care about them, and will someday give back to others in need”
While many of the bag distributions will already have taken place by the time this article is published, it is not too early to sign up for next year’s distribution or to make a donation to the other projects through the Community Center.
There are many opportunities to give back to the community throughout Shanghai, so please take a moment this holiday season and think about what you can do for someone else.
Learn more at www.communitycenter.cn or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.